My All-Time Undrafted NFL Team: Offense

Just because the 2013 NFL Draft has concluded, that does not mean that NFL teams are done trying to find rookie players.  Immediately following the draft we saw storylines emerge about Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray signing with the Chiefs and Cris Carter’s son Duron Carter going to the Vikings.  The best NFL teams not only find exceptional value in the draft but the best also find value outside of it.  Recently Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received a 6 year $108 million extension from the Dallas Cowboys.  He was an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois University.  The New York Giants hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 2012 thanks largely to the efforts of undrafted Victor Cruz out of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  Who knows what future superstar teams may discover in the coming days but it has prompted me to throw together my all-time undrafted NFL team.

Below you will find my all-time undrafted offense.   Defense and Special Teams will be released later this week.

Quarterback

Kurt Warner, University of Northern Iowa
St. Louis Rams (1998 – 2003); New York Giants (2004); Arizona Cardinals (2005 – 2009)
Super Bowl XXXIV Champion; Super Bowl XXXIV MVP;  2x NFL MVP; 2x All-Pro; 4x Pro-Bowl
Fun Fact: Holds the record for the most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XXXIV), 2nd most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XLIII), and you guessed it – third most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XXXVI)

Runner-Up: Warren Moon, Washington
Houston Oilers (1984-1993); Minnesota Vikings (1994-1996); Seattle Seahawks (1997-1998); Kansas City Chiefs (1999-2000)

Running Backs

Joe Perry, Compton College
San Francisco 49ers (1948 – 1960; 1963); Baltimore Colts (1961 – 1962)
3x Pro-Bowl Selection; 2x First Team All-Pro; 2x Rushing Champion; NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team; San Francisco 49ers #34 retired; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: In 1954 Joe Perry rushed for over 1,000 yards becoming the first NFL player to every rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons

Priest Holmes, Texas
Baltimore Ravens (1997 – 2000); Priest Holmes (2001 – 2007)
Super Bowl XXXV Champion; 3x Pro Bowl; 3x All-Pro; 2001 Rushing Title; 2002 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Fun Fact: In 2001, Priest Holmes became the first undrafted player to ever win a rushing title.  Arian Foster duplicated this feat 2010.

Runner-Up: Arian Foster, Tennessee
Houston Texans (2009 – Present)

Fullback

Marion Motley, Nevada
Cleveland Browns (1946 – 1953); Pittsburgh Steelers (1955)V
4x AAFC Champion; 1948 AAFC Rushing Champion; 1950 NFL Rushing Champion; 1950 Pro-Bowl Selection; 1950 NFL Champion; NFL 1940’s All-Decade Team; NFL 75th Anniversary Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: Motley holds the best career average for yard per rushing attempt at 5.7.  He was also the Browns starting linebacker when he played.

Runner-Up: Vonta Leach, ECU
Green Bay Packers (2004 – 2006); New Orleans Saints (2006); Houston Texans (2006 – 2010); Baltimore Ravens (2011 – Present)

Offensive Guards

Larry Little, Bethune-Cookman
San Diego Chargers (1967 – 1968); Miami Dolphins (1969 – 1980)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 5x Pro Bowl selection; 5x First team All-Pro; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: In 1969, Little was upset with a trade that sent him from the Chargers to the Dolphins because he wanted to go somewhere he could win a championship.  Little went on to win two Super Bowls including being an integral part of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team.

Brian Waters, North Texas
Kansas City Chiefs (2000 – 2010); New England Patriots (2011 – 2012)
6x Pro Bowl Selection; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: Waters played tight end and defensive end at North Texas before the Chiefs converted him into an offensive lineman.

Runner-Up:  Kris Dielman, Indiana
San Diego Chargers (2003 – 2011)

Center

Jim Langer, South Dakota State
Miami Dolphins (1970 – 1979); Minnesota Vikings (1980 – 1981)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 6x Pro Bowl Selection; 6x All-Pro; NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: The award for the top offensive lineman in Division II is the Jim Langer Award.  Interestingly, he was a middle linebacker in college and became a lineman once he joined the Dolphins.

Runner-Up: Jeff Saturday, North Carolina
Indianapolis Colts (1999 – 2011); Green Bay Packers (2012)

Offensive Tackles

Lou Groza, Ohio State
Cleveland Browns (1946 – 1959; 1961 – 1967)
4x AAFC Champion; 4x NFL Champion; 9x Pro Bowl Selection; 4x All-Pro; NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team; Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor; Cleveland Browns #76 retired; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: Nicknamed “The Toe”, Lou Groza was also the placekicker for the Browns, leading the league in field goals on five occasions and retired as the all-time points leader in the NFL.

Nate Newton, Florida A&M
Dallas Cowboys (1986 – 1998); Carolina Panthers (1999)
3x Super Bowl Champion; 6x Pro Bowl Selection; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: While in Dallas he was nicknamed “The Kitchen”, the reason being he was larger than the Bears’ William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

Runner-Up: Jason Peters, Arkansas
Buffalo Bills (2004 – 2008); Philadelphia Eagles (2009 – Present)

Wide Receivers

Rod Smith, Missouri Southern State University
Denver Broncos (1994 – 2006)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 3x Pro Bowl; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: Rod Smith is the only undrafted player to ever eclipse the 10,000 career receiving yards mark.

Wes Welker, Texas Tech
San Diego Chargers (2004); Miami Dolphins (2004 – 2006); New England Patriots (2007 – 2012); Denver Broncos (2013 – Present)
5x Pro Bowl; 2x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 3x NFL Receptions Leader
Fun Fact: Wes Welker was widely considered “too small” to be successful at the college level.  Only 1 Division I school offered him a scholarship (Texas Tech) and it was only offered to him after another recruit backed out of the offer right before Welker’s freshman year.  That same disrespect apparently followed him to the NFL Draft.

Drew Pearson, Tulsa
Dallas Cowboys (1973 – 1983)
Super Bowl XII Champion; 3x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second Team All-Pro; 3x Pro Bowl Selection;  Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor; Pearson’s #88 reserved for Best Cowboy’s Receivers (worn by Michael Irvin & Dez Bryant)
Fun Fact: In the 1975 Playoffs in a game against the Minnesota Vikings, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach threw a 50 yard game winning touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with seconds left on the clock.  Afterwards he said of the pass, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary” and the Hail Mary pass was born.

Wayne Chrebet, Hofstra
New York Jets (1995 – 2005)
New York Jets #80 Discontinued
Fun Fact: In 1995, Wayne Chrebet became the first player from Hofstra University to make an NFL roster since 1964

Runner-Up: Victor Cruz, University of Massachusetts
New York Giants (2010 – Present)

Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, Kent State
San Diego Chargers (2003 – Present)
8x Pro Bowl Selection; 5x All-Pro; NFL 2000s All-Decade Team; San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team
Fun Fact: Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State but after his agent told him he wouldn’t make the NBA he arranged private NFL workouts with as many as 19 NFL teams.  His first was with the Chargers, they signed him on the spot.

Zeke Mowatt, Florida State
New York Giants (1983 – 1989; 1991); New England Patriots (1990)
Super Bowl XXI Champion
Fun Fact: Upon his retirement, Zeke Mowatt founded Mowatt, Inc. – a janitorial service in the New Jersey area.

Runner-Up: None.

Well there you have it, my all-time great NFL undrafted offense.  For some positions the options available is astounding (quarterback), while there are other locations where there is a surprising lack of choices (tight end and offensive tackle) but that does not change the fact that in hindsight every one of these players deserved to be drafted (and would’ve been high draft picks) but have succeeded in spite of it.   We often hear about the first round guys that don’t pan out but these are the undrafted guys who did.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ‘em!
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The Know-It-All Fantasy Football PPR Rundown

Fantasy Football PPR Rankings

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Here is my first batch of news/notes from the preseason. Focusing on PPR leagues:

1st Round Buys & Sells

Buy:

Arian Foster, HOU-  Best player in the draft, not much he can’t do. Only concern is health. Faces one of the easiest schedules for running backs this season.

Ray Rice, Bal- Good for 70+ receptions, not to mention his 1,500 rushing yard potential and double digit TD. He is a top 3 fantasy player.

Calvin Johnson, DET- 150+ targets, good for 85+ receptions and double digit TDs

Darren McFadden, OAK- Injuries have slowed him down, BUT he has potential to be the Top Fantasy Running Back. Good for 1,300 rushing yards. Is averaging .82 points per touch the last 2 seasons. With Michael Bush gone, look for him to do some work.

Julio Jones, ATL- Yes I left out Roddy White. Jones is emerging, and this is his year. Look for 75+ receptions, and double digit TDs from him.

Sell:

Matt Forte, CHI-  Running behind a below average offensive line. Look for the Bears to throw it more in the RedZone with the addition of Brandon Marshall. Let someone else take Forte in the first round.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC- Has a high redzone success rate of 21%, but his team never gets in the Redzone. With him holding out and being on a dismal team, I would pass.

Wes Welker, NE- 173 Targets in 2011. With Lloyd in town, I see those targets going down. Declining Endzone Rate, with higher risk of injury on top of the worst schedule in the league for a Wideout.

Andre Johnson, HOU- Injuries have killed his last 2 seasons. Top player at his position, but he can’t produce when he is on the bench.

LeSean McCoy- There is no way he is repeating 20 TDs from last year. He was unsuccessful on a high rate of 30% of pass plays directed at him. I blame some of that on his Quarterback. He is a nice player, but has to be the most overrated player in the 1st round with ADP of #3 overall.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

 

Week 4 Weekend Player Updates

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

You are either one of two people at the moment. You are sitting high and mighty at 3-0/2-1 or you are in a state of panic and disbelief at 0-3/1-2. I have been in both situations in the past. It can be easy for the team at the top to get complacent about their place in the standings and not work their team hard enough. You can also reach a level of discouragement being the guy at the bottom and want to just stop working your team.  The Fantasy Season is about 25% of the way thru. Don’t give up and don’t get complacent. There is a hard lesson I am learning in my Fantasy Baseball League at the moment, It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish……..

Digging for Gold:

Ending Week 3, injuries continue to be the trend. There are still players in the Free Agent Pool that can help, but in some cases you can’t fix a stab wound with a band aid…example Jamaal Charles owners.

Quarterback:

Matt Hasselbeck, TEN- Hasselbeck has put up very consistent fantasy numbers this season. He is averaging 300 yards a game and has two games of 20 or more fantasy points scored. You could see a drop in production with the news of Kenny Britt tearing his ACL and landing on the IR. Hasselbeck faces Cleveland, Indy, and Cincy over the next 5 games.

The Jets are turning into a passing team with Sanchez under center

Mark Sanchez, NYJ-  Sanchez is quietly having a solid start to the fantasy year. He has passed for over 330 yards twice, has thrown for 2 touchdowns in every game, and has a QB rating of 90.0 for the year. The only big negative for Sanchez is Interceptions. If he can cut down on the turnovers I can see him as a valuable start if the matchup is favorable.

Running Back:

Steve Slaton, MIA- It is still a mystery what happened to this former fantasy 1st round talent. Now that he was claimed by the Dolphins, he is worth a look. Slaton seems to have overcome his injury problems, but was the low man in a crowded Houston backfield. With Reggie Bush as an hourly injury concern, Slaton could pick up some valuable carries and targets behind rookie Daniel Thomas. Remember he once rushed for 1,282 yards, 9 Touchdowns with only 268 attempts. He also caught 50 balls that year.

Roy Helu could overtake the starting spot in Washington

Roy Helu, WAS- In a Mike Shanahan backfield, you never know who will emerge. Helu seems to be splitting carries with Tim Hightower, but it is a matter of how many touches he gets. He is a nice handcuff for Hightower owners, and could emerge as the #1 option.

 Wide Receivers:

David Nelson, BUF-  It’s time to drink the Kool Aid in Buffalo. Nelson has been a consistent target. If Buffalo could find him in the endzone more then he would be a top fantasy sleeper pick. He has had back to back 80+ yard performances, scoring 24 fantasy points in week 2.

With Kenny Britt on Injured Reserve, Nate Washington will be the #1 Wideout

Nate Washington, TEN- With Kenny Brit out for the year, Washington takes over the #1 Wideout spot. Titans have proven that they are not afraid to throw the ball, so Washington should receive an above average amount of targets. He has favorable matchups 3 of the next 5 games, and blasted Denver for 8 receptions, 92 yards, and a touchdown.

Antonio Brown, PIT- Last week I had Brown on my list for players that were on the decline. In Week 3 I noticed a trend. If you look at Brown’s targets, they have increased every week. He has 22 totals targets this year, more than Hines Ward at 18. He has also clearly out-performed Emmanuel Sanders the past 2 weeks. I am not a fan of Pittsburgh Wideouts, but Brown is worth keeping an eye on.

Tight Ends:

Todd Heap, ARI-  He has passed Jeff King as Kevin Kolb’s favorite Tightend. The Cardinals offense looked horrible Sunday, but Heap was able to grab 6 balls for 61 yards. He is not going to put up huge numbers. If you are looking for some low consistency to get you by, Heap is worth the look.

Brandon Pettigrew, DET- Finally broke out for 11 receptions and 112 receiving yards. As Stafford continues to grow this year, I see this connection becoming stronger.

 

The Ups & Downs:

Three weeks of football has displayed to us some valuable trends that show us a lot about how players are developing.

Players on the Rise:

Matt Schaub QB, HOU: After a disappointing week 1, Schaub has improved the last two weeks. He posted 373 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Saints on Sunday. As long as Andre Johnson is running routes for the Texans, Schaub will always have the chance to score big.

 

Manning carved up the Eagles for 4 touchdowns Sunday

Eli Manning QB, NYG: Against a stacked Eagle Secondary, Manning threw for 250+ yards and 4 TD’s. He was mediocre the previous 2 weeks, but he is starting to move on without Steve Smith.

 

Ryan Mathews RB, SD: Mike Tolbert is not stealing Mathews spotlight as of late. The second year back is finding his was into the endzone and racking up plenty of yards in the process. Mathews has all the tools to do his best LT impersonation in San Diego, but has Norv Turner finally put his trust in him?

 

Wes Welker WR, NE: Count them up… 20 targets in one game! Wow… some #1 Wideouts have that many for the season so far. The Welker-Brady connection continues to thrive in New England and the sure handed Welker is putting up “off the chart” numbers. 16 catches/216 yards/2 touchdowns on Sunday. He is by far the top Receiver option in Fake Football at the moment.

 

Players on the Down:

 

Santonio Holmes WR, NYJ: He has been decent at best. Bothered by a sore quad in week 2, and too many forced balls his way have given Holmes a slow start to the season. He has the talent to bounce back, but currently Plaxico Burress is showing him up.

 

Santonio Holmes has not lived up to his potential this year

Steven Jackson RB, STL: The Rams have overloaded Jackson with carries since he was drafted and it is catching up to him. When he is 100%, he is easily one of the Elite Backs in the game, but with a lingering quad injury and a poor team around him, there is not much hope for this star.

 

DeAngelo Williams RB, CAR: Carolina was thought to be a run centered team in preseason. The emergence of Cam Newton has changed that. With less carries and Jonathan Stewart being the favored back, Williams should be stored away on your bench until fate turns in his favor.

 

Reggie Bush RB, MIA: With no Drew Bress throwing him the ball and no Sean Payton drawing up plays for him, Bush has looked below average at best in Miami. Rookie Daniel Thomas has taken over the #1 spot, and newly acquired Steve Slaton could also steal the show from Bush. High Powered Passing attacks is what appeals to his skill set and Miami just doesn’t have it.

Sam Bradford QB, STL: The trend of Spread Offense Quarterbacks coming out of the college is normally not good. Bradford seems to be following that trend this season. Granted, his team around him has not improved, but his costly mistakes are what have made him a Non-Fantasy Option.

 

Buy or Sell:

You should always be looking to buy low off another team’s rosters and sell high on your roster. Just don’t get trade happy. The goal is to upgrade your current position.

 

Buy Low:

Josh Freeman QB, TB-                        Freeman has a favorable schedule, and has shown improvement

Jimmy Graham TE, NO-          Is becoming the option Shockey never could fill

Phillip Rivers QB, SD-              Stock is down a little, a chance to buy low. He will produce

Reshard Mendenhall RB, PIT- Has had a slow start, but will come around

 

 

 

Sell High:

Darren Sproles RB, NO-          Top 7 RB, value will never be higher

Is Mike Vick worth the injury risk for your team?

Steve Smith WR, CAR-              Rookie QB, and tough schedule ahead

Antonio Gates TE, SD-             2nd season of foot problems, cannot stay on the field

Robert Meachem WR, NO-    Colston is on his way back, sell him before his targets disappear    

Mike Vick QB, PHI-                 When he is good, he is elite… BUT can’t stay healthy. See if you can get good value in return

 

 THE GOLDEN RULE:

Fantasy Sports is all about Perseverance. When you are down you have to work 10x harder than the rest of the league to get to the top…..and when you are at the top you have to work 20x harder or someone might catch you by surprise.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @KStafford32

2011 NFL Offseason Grades – AFC East

Sorry for the delay, without further ado, here are my offseason grades for the AFC East.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Nate Solder, OT (1-17); Ras-I Dowling, CB (2-33); Shane Vereen, RB (2-56); Stevan Ridley, RB (3-73); Ryan Mallett, QB (3-74); Marcus Cannon, OT (5-138); Lee Smith, TE (5-159); Markell Carter, DE (6-194); Malcolm Williams, CB (7-219)

Solder is a big, athletic tackle who can bolster the Patriot's line starting Week 1

I think the New England Patriots had a stronger draft than most people give them credit for.  The glaring hole that I see in their draft is that they failed to address the wide receiver position and waited until the 3rd round to address their running back need.  Nate Solder is a perfect fit for this line as he is a large athletic tackle that can be plugged in immediately.  I really like what the Patriots did in the 3rd and 4th round as much as anyone.   Stevan Ridley was a highly underrated running back in college who could be a strong addition to the backfield in another year or two.  I also think Ryan Mallett can be a starting quarterback in this league and I feel like the Patriots will soon pull a “Cassell” or “Kolb” and be able to turn this 4th round draft pick into more draft picks.  The best thing the Patriots did in this draft is set themselves up nicely seeing as they now have 2 first round and 2 second round picks in 2012.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Logan Mankins, G (Patriots); Matt Light, OT (Patriots); BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB (Patriots); Albert Haynesworth, DT (Redskins), Chad Ochocinco, WR (Bengals), Shaun Ellis, DE (Jets)

KEY LOSSES: Marcus Stroud, DT; Tully Banta-Cain, LB; Ty Warren, DE; Nick Kaczur, OT; Alge Crumpler, TE

It's not unreasonable to think that Chad Ochocinco could hit double digits for receiving touchdowns in 2011.

The New England Patriots did not make the big splashes that other teams did but what’s important is they made the necessary one.  They were able to re-sign Mankins and Light so with the addition of Solder this is a solid offensive line going into next season.  They were able to bring back BenJarvus Green-Ellis who was able to provide a ground attack for the Patriots last season.  Most importantly, if Albert Haynesworth can return to Tennessee form the Patriots got him for a ridiculously good value and by pairing him with Vince Wilfork, the Patriots might have the tools necessary to shut down that dangerous running game of the New York Jets.  In addition they were able to go and get Shaun Ellis from the Jets to give the Patriots a great defensive line.  Chad Ochocinco was another great value trade who I think will have a great year in New England.  Not a ridiculous year but his presence should also open up the field for Wes Welker and those young tight ends.  I project a 9 – 10 touchdown, 1100 yard season for Ochocinco in this offense which makes this an excellent pick-up.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE (1-30); Kenrick Ellis, DT (3-94); Bilal Powell, RB (4-126); Jeremy Kerley, WR (5-153); Greg McElroy, QB (7-208); Scotty McKnight, WR (7-227)

 

Greg McElroy has won everywhere he's been and provides an interesting developmental project for the Jets

Going into the draft, the New York Jets biggest concern had to be their defensive line – getting younger and more athletic at the position.  They finally gave up on bust Vernon Gholston and the aging Jason Taylor will not be back.  Additionally, they also lost Shaun Ellis to the rival Patriots.  I feel like Wilkerson will be giving quarterbacks in the East nightmares for years.  He is a tall, athletic, fast defensive end with great strength and instincts.  Kenrick Ellis could be a great force upfront for the Jets.  I do like the Greg McElroy pick in the 7th round.  A lot of times, draft experts talk about intangibles which really means “we don’t know what else to call it but we like it” or someone being a winner.  The difference between Super Bowl contenders like the Jets and teams like the Broncos – is the Jets took a quarterback who is a winner, but they grabbed him in the 7th round as opposed to trading up in the first.  Overall this was a really good draft for the Jets without a lot of picks.  The only downside is I feel like their linebacker corps could also use some help.

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Santonio Holmes, WR (Jets); Antonio Cromartie, CB (Jets); Mark Brunell, QB (Jets); Plaxico Burress, WR (Inactive); Nick Folk, K (Jets); Wayne Hunter, OT (Jets);  David Harris, LB (Jets); Derrick Mason, WR (Ravens)

KEY LOSSES: Braylon Edwards, WR; Shaun Ellis, DE; Jason Taylor, DE; Brad Smith, KR/WR/QB

Re-signing Santonio Holmes was a priority for the Jets heading into the 2011 season.

The New York Jets did some excellent things in the free agency period.  Braylon Edwards was a big loss but with his pending suspension, the Jets felt like Plaxico Burress was a better risk to take.  Re-signing Santonio Holmes was a must and then the addition of the ageless wonder Derrick Mason gives the Jets a strong receiving corps.  Bringing back Cromartie was necessary once they lost out on the Asomugha sweepstakes and since the kicker market was relatively weak, it was so important for the Jets to re-sign Nick Folk.  The big losses for the Jets are Shaun Ellis who left for the rival Patriots but the Jets anticipated this loss in their draft.  One really big loss for the Jets, that most don’t realize, was do-it-all Brad Smith.  His long kick returns, and ability as a wild cat QB was a big part of the Jets success the last two seasons and he will be missed more than most Jets fans realize.  Overall, the Jets did a great job in the offseason.

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT CLASS: Mike Pouncey, C (1-15); Daniel Thomas, RB (2-62); Edmund Gates, WR (4-11); Charles Clay, FB (6-174); Frank Kearse, DT (7-231); Jimmy Wilson (7-235)

 

Even though he played at Division II Abilene Christian, Gates has the speed, hands, and athleticism to be a successful slot receiver in the NFL.

For me, the Miami Dolphins draft was kind of a mixed bag.  But overall there were a few things I really liked about the draft for the Dolphins.  First off, I love the Mike Pouncey pick for him in the first round.  While it has been a slow process, the Dolphins have been doing a good job of building their offensive line.  They got their tackle in Jake Long a few years back and now they have the second most position in the line in a strong, athletic center in Pouncey.  I really am a fan of Daniel Thomas and think he could be a great addition to that backfield.  The fact that the first running back went off the board late in the first round makes almost any running back with starter potential, such as Thomas a good value.  The player I love in this draft for the Miami Dolphins is Edmund Gates.  Having watched several Abilene Christian games, I can tell you this about Gates – he’s got great awareness, excellent hands, and amazing athleticism.  He is a raw talent but when he gets in space, watch out – he was one of the fastest players in this year’s draft.  He is going to be compared to the Chicago Bears’ Johnny Knox (also from ACU) but I expect, with some development, that Gates will be better than Knox.  Great value pick in the 4th round. I’m intrigued to watch him develop.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Reggie Bush, RB (Saints); Kevin Burnett, LB (Chargers); Matt Moore, QB (Panthers); Tony McDaniel, DE (Dolphins); Marc Colombo, OT (Cowboys); Ronald Fields, DT (Broncos); Jason Taylor, DE (Jets)

KEY LOSSES: Ronnie Brown, RB; Tyler Thigpen, QB; Channing Crowder, LB

The Reggie Bush trade should work out to be one of those rare trades that was a great move for both teams

I have not been big on Reggie Bush these past few years but I think this is a trade that makes sense.  He is a pass catching running back and a great athlete and may be the heir apparent to the now departed original Wildcat, Ronnie Brown.  He also gives the Dolphins a threat as an excellent punt returner.  The addition of Marc Colombo gives the Dolphins a pretty good offensive line and I like the additions they made on defense with Fields and Burnett.  Crowder will definitely be missed.  Of course the biggest question for the Dolphins in my mind is who is going to play quarterback?  I am not going to go as far as to say Chad Henne and Matt Moore are never going to be more than a number 2 but for a team that improved overall in the offseason, they actually took a step back at the quarterback position.  It’s a sad state of affairs when losing Tyler Thigpen actually weakens your QB position.  There were a number of serviceable starters available via trade and draft and I think the Dolphins should be calling Cincy around the clock to see what it would take to get Carson Palmer there.  While I believe he is retired for good, this is one of a small handful of teams that should be calling Favre and it might not hurt them to give Randy Moss a call either.

 

 

BUFFALO BILLS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT CLASS: Marcell Dareus, DT (1-3); Aaron Williams, CB (2-34); Kelvin Sheppard, LB (3-68); Da’Norris Searcy, S (4-100); Chris Hairston, OT (4-122); Johnny White, RB (5-133); Chris White, LB (6-169); Justin Rogers, CB (7-206); Michael Jasper, G (7-245)

 

Marcell Dareus is a strong, fast defensive lineman that could play either the nose tackle or defensive end position in Buffalo's 3-4 D

I don’t know if Buffalo really drafted the positions they needed but they drafted a lot of good players.  A lot of good teams have been built on the basis of B.P.A. (Best Player Available) and when you are as bad as the Bills were last season, the focus really does need to be on getting as many good players as possible.  While I will continue to argue that I believe Patrick Peterson was the best overall player in the draft, I believe Marcell Dareus was a perfect defensive pick for the Bills.  The Bills run a 3-4 defense and as a pass-rusher, Dareus could easily be converted into a defensive end.  I also love the Williams, Sheppard, and Searcy picks.  This defense should be much improved this coming season.  The biggest questions have to be though, why the Bills did not address their offensive line until day 3 or use a single pick on a wide receiver or tight end.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Nick Barnett, LB (Packers); Drayton Florence, CB (Bills); Brad Smith, WR/KR/QB (Jets), Tyler Thigpen, QB (Dolphins)

KEY LOSSES: Paul Posluszny, LB; Donte Whitner, S; Lee Evans, WR

Barnett, while not Posluszny, was as good of a replacement as the Bills were going to find.

One of these offseasons, Buffalo is going to have to make a splash if they ever hope to compete with the Jets and Patriots.  Losing Paul Posluszny and Donte Whitner was significant.  But the Bills re-signed the guy they needed to in Drayton Florence.  Nick Barnett is a nice replacement for Posluszny and I could see this being a stout defense that now features the likes of Aaron Williams, Marcell Dareus, Shawne Merriman, Nick Barnett, and Jairus Byrd.   I also like the Tyler Thigpen signing as he is a solid back-up quarterback and it was a good move to take Brad Smith away from the rival Jets.  Gailey did some wildcat looks in Kansas City with Thigpen and in this offense he could find places for Thigpen and Smith.  However, the offensive side of the ball needs plenty of work.  The offensive line is non-existent and they traded away a highly underrated receiver in Lee Evans which I believe they will regret.  But if this defense can hold teams to 10 points a game, the Bills might just have a shot.

Overall the AFC East had a pretty strong offseason.  The New England Patriots definitely improved.  The Bills and Dolphins should field a better team than last season and the New York Jets look about the same to me.   As always this should be a very tough division and I expect great defense across the board from all four teams.

 

 

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ‘em!